The DHS has NFI

From Slashdot | Bruce Schneier Blasts Politicians, Media

More than just aircraft (Score:5, Informative)
by DG (989) * on Friday September 15, @10:29AM (#16113293)
( | Last Journal: Monday July 24, @04:17PM)

A few years ago, the US Dept of Homeland Security was advising people to buy plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal their houses against chemical weapons.

I’m a Canadian who works in the US. I’m also a former Regular Force soldier who is now a Reservist. Part of my baliwick at one point was unit Chemical Warfare Officer.

So I come to work the day after that particular announcement was made, and I find a group of my co-workers discussing a plan for the one guy who owns a pickup truck to stop off at Home Depot and stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape. The plan was to buy in bulk, and they were working out the details for how much to buy, how to deliver it, etc etc.

I wound up delivering a little ad-hoc class on the properties of chemical weapons to about 30 people, the high points of which were:

1) Yes, modern chemical weapons are ludicrously lethal. Exposure to as little as a pinhead-sized drop of certain nerve agents can kill you, which means that a litre of agent has the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

2) The *reason* that these agents are so stupidly toxic is that **DELIVERY** of agent is really serious problem. It is so difficult to arrange exposure of soldiers to agent AT ALL that you need tiny exposures to be incapacitiating or the stuff just doesn’t work. If you have (say) 300,000 lethal doses in a litre of agent, try getting a lethal dose of that agent to 300,000 people – it’s a nontrivial problem.

3) The people who invested most heavily in this equipment (the USSR and the USA) had access to MONSTER delivery systems, and the targets were expected to be densely packed. We’re talking hundreds of tubes of artillery, and aircraft-based delivery systems that for all intents and purposes were giant crop dusters. We’re not talking a couple of litres of agent here; we’re talking about tanker-truck quantities.

4) The primary military objective of chemical weapons isn’t to kill the enemy; they are a nucience and area denial weapon. As soon as you deliver a chemical strike, you force everybody in the area to get into their protective gear – bunny suit, gas mask, “Boots, Rubber, Clumsy” which is a serious pain in the ass and interferes with combat effectiveness. A chemical strike can channel the enemy, slow him down, induce fatigue and stress, forces him to take time to decomtaminate – but it rarely inflicts serious casulties.

5) The golden example of this is the Sarin attack on the Japanese subway a few years ago. Of all the places in the world to do a chemical strike, that’s the best – stupid high population density maximizes the exposure pur unit volume of agent, limited ventallation reduces the amount of agent burned off, few exits maximizes the time the target is spent exposed to agent, and the agent itself was reasonably modern.

It SHOULD have been a slaughterhouse, according to conventional wisdom. But in reality, the amount of casulties due to agent was tiny; they inflicted more casulties through panic and stampeding than due to agent exposure.

Chemical weapons JUST DON’T WORK unless delivered in huge volumes – and the ability to deliver in huge volumes is limited to large, well-equipped state armies. A chemical strike is well down the list of potential threats to the civillian populace.

A skilled and motivated sniper is far, far more dangerous than a dozen nutballs with a litre of VX.

The fact that the Department of Homeland Security was advising people to buy plastic sheeting to protect themselves against chemical attack is completely ludicrous… and while I have a hard time buying into anybodies’ tinfoil-hat conspriracy theories (never assume malevolance where stupidity will serve) that sure looks like fear-mongering to me.


The terrorists don’t care about that (Score:5, Insightful)
by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <> on Friday September 15, @08:45AM (#16112486)

Here’s what the terrorists care about:

1) they don’t want the US to have such economic and political power over their countries
2) they are pretty miffed that the US supports Israel
3) some of them want Islam to be the dominant religion all over the world
4) they don’t like the US propping up regimes that suppress their brand of religion
5) they don’t like the US propping up regimes that treat their citizens inhumanely
6) they want to be taken seriously
7) they want to act on equal terms with the West

They don’t care whether or not we are squandering our freedoms. That is a cop-out and jingoism that makes it seem like there are all these external forces that are causing us to give up our freedoms. It’s a way of appealing to our nationalist nature instead of our patriotic nature.

We are losing our freedoms because we are letting it happen. Period. This has nothing to do with terrorism or terrorist wishes except that politicians on both sides use appeals to our emotions to take those freedoms away on the one hand and to lamely protest their usurpation on the other.

I have no analogy for this. It doesn’t need one. So why do all these pundits keep spouting these hackneyed bad analogies? Because they don’t think you’re any smarter than that.

I think you’re smart enough to see through it. It is my fervent hope that we (the true intellectual elite) can move this country forward without jingoism and without nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance.

I point the responsibility… (Score:5, Interesting)
by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday September 15, @09:53AM (#16113013)

I point the responsibility towards the people who are succumbing to these notions of fear and submitting their rights to the government in exchange for peace of mind. I was having dinner with my parents the other night, and my mother, who had MSNBC on in the background, was preaching GWB and how the war on terrorism was going to work and bring democracy to Iraq.

I suggested to my mother that Iraq might very well be the victim of a strong power vaccuum once (or if) the US ever removes its presence completely from the region. My mother countered by saying that wont happen if we set up their democracy correctly. I asked her why we’re setting up their democracy for them. She said it was because they deserved it. I said that may be well and true, but you can not lead someone who lacks their own motivation into a battle and then leave. The will and effort to change the government has to come from the people oppressed by that government, not someone else egging them on for change. That is not a true foundation for that people’s government.

Also its my mothers belief that democracy will eradicate all terrorist activity. She said once all countries have a democracy that everything would be harmonic and peaceful. I countered by asking about countries with democracies that chose not to go to Iraq with the US and she countered by saying those countries didn’t know any better. I then suggested that a government such as ours and a democratic but Muslim-faith-based government may never see eye-to-eye. She retracted to her previous point of democracy being able to eliminate all internal terrorism. I then name-dropped Tim McVeigh as proof of that theory.

My mom is one of many people who believe warrantless wire-tapping is fine. She says she has nothing to hide. I asked her to tell me her current checking account balance. She got angry and told me no. I asked why she would give me that information and she replied it was none of my business. Then I asked her to tell me about all the phone calls she made last month to anyone who wasn’t in our family. She told me again it was none of my business. I asked her why it was none of my business yet she had no problem letting the government know all of that information?

She got this nasty look on her face and told me GWB is going to save this country.


1 ticket to Canada, please.

Apologies for spelling and grammar.

Re:Pussies (Score:5, Insightful)
by Skye16 (685048) on Friday September 15, @10:31AM (#16113300)

There’s rolling over and pretending nothing happened, and there’s running around like a fucking moron screaming the sky is falling every other day.

Honestly, in the giant scheme of things, I don’t fucking care about 9/11, I don’t fucking care about the two towers, and I don’t fucking care about the pentagon. A few thousand people died in a country of about three hundred million. Whoopdifuckingdoo. About 460 thousand people died of heart attacks in 1998 – where the fuck is our War on Candy Bars and Whoppers, huh?

It was a rhetorical question; don’t bother answering it. Obviously you try to stop terrorists, just as you try to stop anything that kills people. But we’re more worried about a bomb on a subway than we are of dying in a car crash because some jackass is drunk driving. As if that bomb is going to kill you any more dead than an idiot in a pickup truck. It’s fucking retarded.

We’ve lost any and all sense of context with this whole “War on Terror” bullshit. I’m not saying Democrats have the answer, but I know for sure that Republicans don’t. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure anyone in a government position does. All-in-all, I find them uniquely suited to be completely incapable of figuring out how best to deal with this. But when given a choice between an asshole dropping bombs and an asshole banging an intern and not doing much of anything else, I’d rather have the latter.

The real sad thing is all I really want is a viable choice. You know, someone who isn’t a complete tool. (Note: Don’t even bother babbling about the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. I’ve scoped both of them out. They’re just as bad – just in different ways. Think of the differences between giant logs of poop and green mushy piles of poop. No matter how you look at it, you’re still shit.)

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